“Lenor Blue,” “Softlan Violet,” “Uhu Yellow” – the masterbatch names of the 1970s and 80s show that colour is a very important criterion for brand management. This is still true today. Functional additives also strongly infl uence the properties of the end product. The masterbatcher is both a source of knowledge and an intermediary between producers of colourants and additives, machine manufacturers and plastics processors.
Which colour represents sunscreen? Many consumers would probably say yellow. Some are more likely to choose a deep blue and others would vote for brown. Purple, green, red? None. Delial, Nivea and Piz Buin – the brands of the 70s and 80s will forever shape our impressions. Colour makes the product unmistakable. It ensures brand awareness and value. But colour is not the only crucial element. “Plastic” used to be synonymous with “cheap and disposable,” but this has changed profoundly for many items. Even for consumables like cosmetics or detergents. Th e impact of “Wäscheparfum” on the label combined with the shimmering, pearly cap on a deep black container is that of a high-quality product. Even the interiors of luxury limousines are designed with ever more plastic in addition to leather, metal and textiles. It now looks just as noble as the rest of the materials.
Combibatches ensure the correct surface feel and even a pleasant smell. Th ey give bulk materials their necessary functional properties, ranging from extreme durability and UV resistance for artifi cial turf and antibacterial properties for clothing through to fl ame retardancy for cable coatings and the exact thermal absorption properties for fi lms used to keep temperatures in the greenhouse hot or as sun protection fi lm that reduces the load on the air conditioning system of glass buildings.
On board as an innovation partner
Plastic processors usually closely involve the masterbatcher in the development process. For example, whether the plastic will come into contact with food, whether it needs to be approved for medical applications or whether it is exposed frequently to the sun can and must be taken into account when creating the formulation. Th e aspect of expertise is becoming ever more important compared to the advantages of an easy-touse concentrate. Th e masterbatcher becomes an innovation partner, who supports the customers in the development of new applications. Th ere is room for medium-sized masterbatch manufacturers as well as large, internationally active chemical companies. Medium-sized companies react fl exibly to the needs of their oft en medium-sized customers. If these medium-sized customers wish to stay aligned with current fashion trends, they need the masterbatch yesterday, not today. On the other hand, the internationally active corporations among the customers expect global support from their suppliers. Providers of masterbatch solutions with production and development sites across the world have the resources to accomplish this.
Medium-sized and large-scale masterbatch manufacturers have one thing in common: in the value chain from pigment production, additive production and polymer production through to the production of plastic parts, they occupy an important place for the processors, right up to the manufacturer of the fi nal product. Th e diversity and high quality possible today would be hard to achieve without masterbatches. With thegrowing departure from “disposable products” like single-use plastic bags, the future belongs to elaborately formulated, durable plastic products.